It was nice spending time with friends, drinking beers, and having laughs. It was exactly what we needed and of course the delicious home cooked meals. Perfect zero.
The day started early. But first, cake for breakfast. Those that know Eric, know he is not a big sweets eater. However, on the AT anything goes, including birthday cake for breakfast! We enjoyed our morning coffee with Anthony and Kelli, then it was back to the trail.
We knew the day was going to be hot and could already feel the heat building early. Thankfully, the 2500 foot ascent up Crocker was gradual and we enjoyed some views of Sugarloaf and Saddleback.
The descent was not as pleasant. We felt the steep rock slides in our legs. Gravity was working against us with our heavy packs full of delicious food. The trail mellowed out for a short while then we went straight up Sugarloaf (yes the ski mountain) a long, intense rock scramble made it even more challenging in the heat of the day. At the end of the 2.2 mile climb our legs felt like jelly and our energy was drained but we pushed on. This seemed like a harsh welcome from the southern Maine section (it’s constantly debated whether southern Maine or the White Mountains in NH is harder).
The trail passed by a plaque that commemorated final 2 miles of trail being completed in 1937. This linked Maine to Georgia via this footpath marked by white blazes. The architects (Benton MacKaye and Myron Avery) never envisioned someone would thru-hike the entire trail but saw the AT as more of a place for people to go on weekends and spend extended time in nature. 11 years later, Earl Shaffer, completed this feat, hiking the 2054 mile trail in one year and earned the trail name ” the crazy one”. As trail crews re-route sections over the years, the AT has grown, now at 2194 miles with thousands attempting to complete a thru-hike each year. Only about 20 – 25% will be successful.
Something we’ve come to realize…at the end of the day, there is always another mountain to climb. Today was no different as we went up one more semi steep 500 foot pud (pointless up and down) before we could set up camp. We did hit another milestone though, the 200 mile marker.
Looking forward to resting our legs in the hammock. Our bug friends are back so will consider making a fire at the lean-to.
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